Ontario Announces New Framework for Advancing Accessibility
On January 28, 2020 Minister for Seniors and Accessibility, Raymond Cho announced Advancing Accessibility in Ontario, a cross-government framework that focuses Ontario's work towards accessibility across the province in 4 key areas;
- Breaking down barriers in the built environment
- Government leading by example
- Increasing participation in the economy for people with disabilities, and
- Improving understanding and awareness about accessibility
Commitments to making the built environment include strategies such as:
- Making buildings safer and more accessible for people with disabilities by increasing harmonization of Ontario's Building Code with the National Construction Codes.
- Investing $1.3 million over two years for the Rick Hansen Foundation to launch the Rick Hansen Foundation Accessibility Certification program in Ontario to help remove barriers in buildings.
- Improving access to buildings and places for people with disabilities by working with key partners in architecture, design, and building. For example:
- partnering with the Ontario Building Officials Association to enhance its curriculum and training on accessibility
- The Royal Architecture Institute of Canada is introducing a new course on accessibility to be available March 2020.
- Providing $1.4 billion in funding for the 2019-20 school year to help school boards provide safe and healthy learning environments for students, such as installing important accessibility features like elevators and ramps.
Moving forward, new commitments include:
- Funding free resources and training materials for the building sector through the EnAbling Change Program to further educate associations and employers about how to improve accessibility in the built environment. Many of these resources are available on a comprehensive one-stop-shop government web page that provides businesses and communities with information to help them be more accessible and inclusive.
- Developing an innovation guide with the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing that will be used to support the implementation of Ontario's Housing Supply Action Plan.
View the Minister's Announcement and Strategy
Implications for Occupational Therapists
Occupational therapists will welcome government commitments to continue to advance accessibility in Ontario. Why not write to the Minister and share your support (and why and how occupational therapists can support this strategy!). Occupational therapists have skills, perspectives and expertise to share as partners in a strategy to achieve accessibility. Consider how you can support your organization, your community, your local businesses, etc. to embrace and understand accessibility requirements.
Access OSOT's Practice Resource - Accessibility Resources.